A computer is like a sandwich: you can buy it all made, but it is always better when you prepare it yourself. We put in the ingredients we want; in the order we want. It’s our sandwich, the one that really fits us. For a computer, it’s the same. Depending on whether you are an avid player, an office automation aces or a graphic designer, you will not use your computer in the same way. The components you will need to assemble will therefore be different. But setting up a computer is a little more delicate than making a sandwich. In this tutorial, we won’t talk about pickles or mayonnaise, but about CPU, heat pipes, SSD, RAM and many other things! These terms may not tell you anything at the moment but don’t panic, this tutorial is made to remedy them. We will learn together to recognize and choose the components of a computer, before seeing how to assemble them to form this wonderful concentrate of technology that is a PC.
Most users see their computers as a whole mystical thing: A button is pressed, a beep sounds and, oh miracle, a picture appears on the screen, and we can start using it. None of them would dare to rummage inside (not even to clean it up) since for them it is the closest thing to a monster’s lair. The problem is that these users do not strive to learn anything about the composition and functioning of their system and, in the long run, they suffer the most from the consequences of their ignorance.
Nothing further from reality. A computer has the same mysteries that a bag of pipes (shell up, shell down) and the Mount of the same is quite simple. It is the manufacturers themselves who have been in charge over time to facilitate the assembly of components, so making mistakes is complicated (although there will always be those who make them, of course).
Some websites offer you a large number of components to choose yourself. Most of them provide what is called “PC configurators,” i.e., a small program that will help you select your parts. This dramatically simplifies the task. Also, you can choose to receive your computer at home already assembled. This saves time and reduces assembly errors.
Choose the components
Know the essential components of a PC to choose them most appropriately often be a thing of geeks; however, each day more and more people realize that the famous offers of the computer stores are authentic tamanduas of hair, designed in the main as to sell you the computer for your eyes and not your head. The primary user has no idea what the motherboard or graphics card is and its different models, virtues, and defects. These aspects I will deal with in due course in another tutorial that I am writing in parallel with this one. The main thing when buying the components of a computer is to know what we need to make it work. The basics are:
- A processor (CPU, Central Processing Unit)
- A baseboard is compatible with the processor we want (MB, Motherboard).
- Memory RAM compatible with the board (RAM, Random Access Memory).
- Graphics card compatible with the motherboard (VGA).
- Hard Disk Drive.
- A DVD reader and recorder
- A power supply Unit.
- A box or housing.
With these essential elements, we could already have a PC. The monitor, keyboard, and mouse would be missing, of course, but these do not fall within the scope of this tutorial. The floppy disk is not included since it has long since ceased to be useful.
When configuring the composition of what our new computer will be, it must be kept in mind that it has to be as balanced as possible. If we put a wild processor on it but a small graphics card, we will not move the games because we will have a bottleneck in which the VGA will not give more of itself and will slow down the whole system (this is the most common configuration of the computer stores). It is, therefore, necessary for us to be very clear what we are going to devote our computer to:
- Video editing: CPU Media-High (best two if you can), VGA media, RAM high-very high.
- Office applications: CPU media, low VGA (or integrated into MB), RAM media.
- Games: CPU Media-High, VGA media-high, RAM media.
- Graphic design: high-very high CPU (best two if you can), high-very high VGA, high-very high RAM.
Of course, these terms are absolute, and no one has at home 3 PC dedicated each to a different activity, so (and curious as it may seem) the configuration that best suits most basic needs of a common user is that of games. Another issue that many users raise is the technological cycle of computer hardware (referred to as “within six months my computer is outdated”). It is true that manufacturers are involved in a dynamic of Savage competitiveness, but well-chosen components, these would allow our computer to last easily, without losing many performances, about two years. We would also like to make it clear that we are absolutely against branded machines, whether they have branded computers (HP or Carrefour). Apart from paying the premium for the brand, an assembler will use components that try to be as stable as possible and do not allow the user to upset them (for obvious reasons) or squeeze them. If you are planning to buy a brand-name Computer, be prepared to drop a good stream of money for a medium-low configuration or an even more jumbo jet for a (supposedly) high-end configuration.
Finally, here it comes the budget. Many people believe that in computer science they give hard for pesetas and that for 600€ you can buy the latest model computer. Get that idea out of your head: a current PC in typical configuration costs around€ 900 without including monitor, mouse and keyboard.